Life – Terror. Ecstasy. Fight. Denial. Flight. Failure. PAIN. Forgiveness. Reconciliation. Hope. Love. Peace – Death.
As we inch towards the replacement for the worse political leader in (my) living memory, the political feeding frenzy is reaching fever pitch. The now, accepted as the norm, ‘say fuck all’, ‘do fuck all’ until you absolutely have to approach by politicians has been temporarily abandoned.
Politicians on all sides of the political landscape are fighting for media air-time, desperate for the opportunity to tell ‘us’, to tell the world, who they are, what they stand for and the political direction in which they want to take their party in.
I learned more about Sajid Javid’s none domicile tax affairs, straight from the horse’s mouth, during a live, Sunday morning 10 minute TV broadcast than I have in the past 3 years? Same goes for Jeremy Hunt and AN other and another.
Suddenly every fucker wants to talk?
They are campaigning, but not to you or I. They are trying to convince, firstly 20, eventually 358 MP’s that they know what they are doing, that they are the person who will represent the views of each and every MP who votes for them and that they are the leader who will enact ‘their’ political ideology, their version of Conservatism.
A leadership election is a rare opportunity for MPs to put themselves on the political map. All of a sudden, tow the party line shackles are off. An opportunity to say what they really believe, or to lie between their teeth, anything to bag a favour, to improve their influence, to jump the ladder, to grow their individual profile both with their next leader and also their own constituents (voters).
But what if they get it wrong, what if they back the wrong horse?
It all began just last week with the rush for the door to denounce their previous leader. Who would jump first, who would stay loyal to the last? Another huge gamble and now the dust has settled one with clear winners and losers (Dominic Raab).
Soon there will be just two potential winners, Rishi Sunak and ‘the’ person chosen to represent those who oppose Rishi Sunak. As simple as – Decrease or Increase Tax.
At that point the campaigning is opened up to the entire Conservative Party. The Tory party currently has 358 Members of Parliament, 257 appointed members of the House of Lords, 9 members of the London Assembly, 31 members of the Scottish Parliament, 16 members of the Welsh Parliament, 4 directly elected mayors, 30 police and crime commissioners, and approximately 7,500 local authority councillors. All of whom will vote to elect the new leader of the Tory Party, our next PM.
Their previous leadership battle was fought and decided by Brexit. Those for v those against, May v Johnson (backed by Mogg). This leadership battle will be decided by another, single central issue, TAX. The Tory Party is synonymous with reducing tax. Reducing Corporation Tax for Private Businesses (Tory backers/funders), regularly and often, more so as we approach a general election, reducing Tax for voters.
What are the Tories beliefs?
The Tory ethos has been summed up with the phrase “God, Queen, and Country”. Coupled with ‘The Party of Business & Free Market Economics’ Tories are generally monarchists were historically of a high church Anglican religious heritage (Mogg, Gove), and opposed to the liberalism of the *Whig faction. Typically, Tories defend the ideas of hierarchy, natural order, and aristocracy. For the few not the many.
Fiscal conservatives advocate tax cuts, reduced government spending, free markets, deregulation, privatisation, free trade, and minimal government debt. Fiscal conservatism follows the same philosophical outlook of classical liberalism (Regan/Thatcher Neoliberalism).
Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative governments (from 1979) slashed income tax rates. Thatcher inherited from Labour a basic rate of income tax at 33%, and a higher marginal rate which could reach as high as 98%. By 1988, she had cut that higher rate dramatically to 40% and the basic rate to 25%.
However, she increased ‘stealth taxation’ this tax cut was partly offset when her government raised the indirect tax, VAT, from 8% to 15%. This is a less egalitarian way of taxing, because, unlike income tax, everyone pays at the same rate.
Theresa Mays government claimed Labour is “about raising taxes”, the 1997 New Labour government in fact maintained the lowered basic income tax rate, and indeed reduced it further. Economic boom times in the early 2000s enabled Tony Blair’s government to both raise public spending and keep taxation relatively low.
Labour’s historical appetite for higher tax and spending levels is somewhat exaggerated by Tory owned (controlled) media. There has always been a strong co-existing strain of fiscal prudence among progressives, dating back to the frugality of Victorian liberalism. The Labour chancellor, Denis Healey, was reining in public spending even at that high point of enthusiasm for the state in the late 1970s.
The Conservative desire to cut taxes is also complicated by the fact that it co-exists with its more paternalist, one nation instincts. Under Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden, the party certainly did keep tax levels lower in the 1950s, for instance, than Labour is likely to have done.
Conservatives argue that their post 2008 financial crash austerity policy significantly cutting public spending, from 45.2% to 40.1% of GDP, kept taxation (or alternatively the deficit) from rising higher still. Other economists argue the opposite, austerity stifled growth, slowing down the economy more and for longer.
Jeremy Corbyn in the previous Labour manifesto planned to significantly raise both corporation tax and higher income tax rates for those earning above £80,000. Corbyn wanted to introduce a wealth tax ‘A Billionaire Tax‘, there are over 170 billionaires in the UK – with wealth totalling over £650,000,000,000,000.
Norway created the ‘Norwegian Wealth Fund‘ with the money they made from their natural oil and gas resources and is used for reinvestment in the country, the UK sold our resources to the highest bidder.
The Norway Wealth Fund has over US$1.19 trillion in assets, and holds 1.4% of all of the world’s listed companies, making it the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund. In December 2021, it was worth about $250,000 per Norwegian citizen.
Broadly speaking, it is fair to say that the Conservative party, certainly historically, has preferred to increase privatisation, lower spending, and levels of tax than Labour, and to a lesser extent the Liberal Democrats. But it is also fair to say Conservatives tend to overplay the extent of this difference.
An exclusive focus on tax is also a bit like looking at only one dimension in isolation of a three-dimensional, interconnected policy challenge. The other dimensions are the need for well-funded public services, which excessive tax cuts undermine, economic growth, without which tax receipts fall, and which is clearly now less certain in the context of Brexit and post pandemic.
The race to replace the UK prime minister is intensifying, with Conservative Party contenders clashing over tax plans. Sajid Javid, the former health minister and former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who lost to Johnson in the 2019 leadership runoff, both set out their priorities on BBC TV on Sunday, putting tax-cutting at the centre of their campaigns.
The pledge is a red-meat topic for the Conservative Party core, who ultimately decide the leader. Both Javid and Hunt have promised to cancel a planned increase in corporation tax and reduce it to 15% from 25%. Javid went a step further, pledging to reverse a payroll tax that was introduced by his successor as Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak.
Sunak declared his candidacy in a slick video that suggested plans had been in the works for longer than a few days? Smear tactics are already in play. A clip from 2007 resurfaced online showing Sunak making a dismissive comment about the working class.
The 1922 Committee of rank-and-file Tory MPs is drawing up plans for an accelerated leadership contest. The two finalists will then embark on a six-week tour of the UK, and Conservative party members will decide who moves into 10 Downing Street.
‘To Tax or not To Tax’, that is the question?
Whoever it is no doubt they will continue with their predecessors principles of; capitalism, limited government, and laissez-faire economics at the heart of its ideological foundation. Fiscal, avoidance of deficit spending and the reduction of overall government spending and national debt whilst lining the pockets of their puppet (pay) masters.
We are back in the thieving world of Fred “the Shred” Goodwin and Northern Rock. The sole difference from 2008 is that instead of the state expecting ordinary people to bail out failed banks, it is expecting them to take pay cuts to protect bosses’ bonuses.
The hopes of working-class voters that ‘Brexit would raise wages’ by removing the competition from EU workers have proved false. Unemployment is as low as it has been for 50 years yet employers are desperate to fill vacancies. Crops die, wasted in their fields, yet we have a food shortage crisis?
Despite the most favourable of circumstances, average pay rose by just 4.2% between January and March – far behind inflation, which is now at 11% and heading higher.
Averages conceal as much as they reveal, however, and the Resolution Foundation found that bonuses in the financial services sector were running at a “red-hot” rate of 30% a year.
However, that is still not fast enough for the City, which is pushing the government to remove all limits on the rewards they can dole out. Meanwhile in the corporate boardroom, chief executives’ remuneration packages are at 63 times the pay of their average (median) worker – almost double the 2021 ratio.
Rampant Free Market Capitalism, seemingly insatiable profits, no matter what the cost, Fuck, everybody & Fuck everything else? Profit, and even more profit. Lies, false promises, gross economic mismanagement, sleaze, blatant, in plain sight, political corruption.
The Conservatives have yet to realise there is no good argument against the staff at BT threatening to strike to maintain their wages, when the chief executive pocketed a 32% increase and shareholders received £700m in dividends.
The Conservatives’ inability to pretend that they care about the injustice the economic crisis is bringing reveals how the “red Toryism” of the 2010s is in its death throes.
Previous crises have brought forward politicians with solutions. Phil Tinline’s, The Death of Consensus: 100 Years of British Political Nightmares, shows how Labour responded to the poverty of the 1930s by planning a welfare state and putting their plans into action in government in the 1940s. It moves on to the Tory right responding to the strikes and inflation of the 1970s by devising the anti-union laws and marketisation of the 1980s. Two, politically and ideologically opposite solutions.
There are simple solutions to lowering inflation that can include fair, proportionate increasing of wages. Lowering profits – Simple? Accept that a PROFIT OF £75O, OOO,OOO, following a PROFIT OF £800,000,000 the previous year is not a loss of £50 million it is a profit of £750 million! Currently, there are no solutions on offer from the Tory’s beyond making the rest of society pay to maintain the incomes of its wealthier classes?
As for Labour, I have no idea how it intends to put its ideas into practice or indeed what ideas it possesses and with an empty suit of a leader that is not going to change soon.
However, my ‘pitchfork is sharpened and @TheReady, just in case.
Thanks for Reading